Louis Wirth (August 28, – May 3, ) was an American sociologist and member of the His interests included city life, minority group behaviour and mass media and he is recognised as one of the leading urban sociologists. Wirth writes that urbanism is a form of social organisation that is harmful to culture , and. Louis Wirth posits similar reasons for the differences in the urban and rural milieu as does Georg Simmel. Wirth argues that the shift between. Louis Wirth has mentioned four characteristics of urban system or urbanism Following Louis Wirth, Urbanism is a way of life, is characterised by extensive.

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They studied the city in terms of changing patterns of spatial arrangements of population and institutions.

In urban society people become more j individualistic, self-centred, selfish and so on. Columbia University Press, Here in urban society there is greater mobility. It refers also to that cumulative accentuation of the characteristics distinctive of the mode of life which is associated with the growth of cities, and finally lous the changes in the direction of modes of life recognized as urban which are apparent among people, wherever they may be, who have come airth the spell of the influences which the city exerts by virtue of the power of its institutions and personalities operating through the means of communication and transportation.

This results in the enormous multiplication of voluntary organizations10 directed wah as great a variety of objectives as there are human needs and interests.

Drop files here or. Thomas John M. Self-government either in the economic, or political, or the cultural realm is under these circumstances reduced to a mere figure of speech, or, at best, is subject to the unstable equilibrium of pressure ass.

Louis Wirth

Blackmar James Q. It has not only tolerated but rewarded individual differences. The increased dominance of secondary relationships was believed to be a feature of urbanization. He has suggested that the role of mobility and eay in urban life should not be overstated in the factory and other work situations.

Place of work tends to become dissociated from place of residence, for the proximity of industrial and commercial establishments makes an area both economicany and socially undesirable for residential purposes.

Definition, Evolution and Growth. The individual counts for little, but the voice of the representative is heard with a deference roughly proportional to the numbers for whom he speaks By virtue of his different interests arising out of different lous of social life, the individual acquires membership in widely divergent groups, each of which functions only with reference to a single segment of his personality.

The groups with which he is affiliated do not lend themselves readily to a simple hierarchical arrangement. The white-collar class, comprising those employed in trade, in clerical, and in professional work, are proportionately more numerous in large cities and in metropolitan centers and in smaller towns than in the country The extreme degree of interdependence and the unstable equilibrium of urban life are closely associated with the division of labor and the specialization of occupations.


Urbanism as a Way of Life: Concept and Characteristics

All these phenomena can be substantially verified through objective indices. On the subjective side, as Simmel has suggested, the close physical contact ass numerous individuals necessarily produces a shift in the media through which we orient ourselves to the urban milieu, especially to our fellow-men.

Urban Personality and collective behaviour It is largely through the activities of the voluntary groups, be their objectives economic, political, educational, religious, recreational, or cultural, that the urbanite expresses and develops his personality, acquires status, and is able to carry on the round of activities that constitute his life career.

Views Read Edit View history. It is particularly important to call attention to the danger of confusing urbanism with industrialism and modern capitalism.

Urbanism as a way of life

Louis Wirth August 28, — Witrh 3, The same factors which have brought about greater personal insecurity also underlie lofe wider contrasts between individuals to be found in the urban world.

The city and the country may be regarded as two poles in reference to one or the other of which all human settlements tend to arrange themselves. Urbanism as a characteristic mode of life may be approached empirically from three interrelated perspectives: Our acquaintances tend to stand in a relationship of utility to us in the sense that the role which each one plays in our life is overwhelmingly regarded as a means for the achievement of our own ends.

Diverse population elements inhabiting a compact settlement thus become segregated from one another in the degree in which their requirements and modes of life are incompatible and in the measure in which they are antagonistic. The urban world puts a premium on visual recognition. Studies made in the s in Britain and North America suggested that urban populations developed close social networks based upon family, neighbourhood and work.

Urbanism as a Way of Life: Concept and Characteristics

Generally, a larger proportion of the adult-urban population is gainfully employed than is the case with the adult-rural population. The dominance of the city over the surrounding hinterland becomes explicable in terms of the division of labor which urban life occasions and promotes. It is this which attracts the criticism of Abrams and others link to Abrams. The danger here was the tendency to confuse “urban” with other features of social organization such as the expansion of the capitalist market, industrialization, the growth of scientific knowledge and of improved communications.


In the face of the disappearance of the territorial unit as a basis of social solidarity, we create interest units. The operations of the pecuniary nexus lead to predatory relationships, which tend to obstruct the efficient functioning of the social order unless checked by professional codes and occupational etiquette.

Upload Your Knowledge on Sociology: On the basis of the three variables, number, density of settlement, and degree of heterogenity, of the urban population, it appears possible to explain the characteristics of urban life and to account for the differences between cities of various sizes and types.

The central problem of the sociologist of the city is to discover the forms of social action urbaism organization that typically emerge in relatively permanent, compact settlements of large numbers of heterogeneous individuals. qay

The heightened mobility of the individual, which brings him within the range of stimulation by urbansim great number of diverse individuals and subjects him to fluctuating status in the differentiated social groups that compose the social structure of the city, brings him toward the acceptance of instability and insecurity in the world at large as a norm.

The distinctive features of the urban mode of life have often ov described sociologically as consisting of the substitution of secondary for primary contacts, the weakening of bonds of kinship, and the declining social significance of the family, the disappearance of the neighborhood, and the undermining of the traditional basis of social solidarity.

Similarly, persons of homogeneous status and needs unwittingly drift into, consciously select, or are forced by circumstances loujs the same area. It may easily be inferred, however, that the organizational framework which these highly differentiated functions call into being does not of itself insure the consistency and integrity of the personalities whose interests it enlists. Hayes James P.

Nor do these groups easily permit of a concentric arrangement so that the narrower ones fall within the circumference of the more inclusive ones, as is more likely to be the case in the rural community or in primitive societies.

According to Wirth, marriage tends to be postponed, and the proportion of single people is growing, leading to isolation and less interaction.

Wirth was a supporter of applied sociologyand believed in taking the knowledge offered by his discipline and using it to solve real social problems. No single group has the undivided allegiance of the individual. Responsibility for controlling behaviour in cities is largely shifting to the police, the courts and other agencies of government to enforce the norms of certain groups.